The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has been hitting the books in an effort to steer clear of Alternative Facts. The Rant used to call those lies, but hey, a prevarication by any other name would smell as BS. We knew that Shakespeare would come in handy some day.

Mad Enchantment, by Ross King, tells the story of Claude Monet’s final, massive paintings of his beloved gardens and water lilies. Measuring as long as fourteen feet, the canvases had to be outfitted with wheels and controlled by pulleys. For more than ten years Monet worked on, through World War I, cataracts, self-doubt, and failing health. The Rant marvels that Monet produced some of his greatest work in his 80s. Donated to France, Monet intended to oversee the installation of his work at the Orangerie in Paris, but he simply could not let them go or call them finished until his death.

Squarely facing the back half of our life, The Rant cannot imagine the courage it would take to launch a project that required skills and a vision you might not even possess as all your contemporaries were dying around you. But Monet did just that and created transcendent art in old age that was unprecedented except for perhaps Michelangelo.

The Rant can’t read about French Impressionism without thinking of comic books, and really who can, so we headed over to the Marvel universe for the fantastic Vision series, Little Worse than a Man/Little Better than a Beast (More Shakespeare. Honestly, that English degree is solid gold).

We won’t go all fanboy on you, but Vision is a sort of android that often gets destroyed and reborn in new guises. Vision wants nothing more than to pass as human, so in this series he builds a family and moves to the suburbs. What follows is a fascinating mediation on fate, choice, loyalty, the limits of the rational world and the solace of others. There is also a hilarious phone call between Vision and his wife Virginia arguing about domestic matters while he battles Giganto.

Comic books tackle big issues all the time because as long as you keep the intricate plot and superheroes and explosions and gore coming, you can do whatever the hell else you want. The Rant suggests you take a break from our current fantasy world of politics and online yelling and enter another world where actual questions about what it means to be human get explored in a genuine and honest way.

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